After our son was born I was made redundant from my job in the property industry, and at the time my wife’s work was becoming more demanding so I quickly became a stay at home ‘house husband’. This was when I learnt a whole new respect for the task of raising children!
15 years ago ‘house husbands’ hardly existed and childcare was seen as a women’s work. Completely disagreeing with this, I am glad to see changes are happening slowly. However, going back to the beginning, when I became a ‘house husband’ I found it very hard at times. I was often told that groups I attended were not for fathers but ‘mother and toddler groups’. My reply was always 'I think you will find this is in fact a parent and toddler group'.
Becoming a childminder (Bude and Stratton Childcare) from being a ‘house husband’ was a natural and ideal career move for me. I love working with children, but only 9 years ago, it wasn’t the norm for a male to want to become a childminder, and even today there is still discrimination. During my training and now, I used PACEY membership as it is full of useful resources, free downloads and activities.
Within the last 15 years and since I first became a fully registered childminder I have completed my NVQ Level 3 in childcare, Forest School Training in Windsor Great Park, have worked in a Pre-School in Ascot as deputy manager and been a learning support assistant and teachers assistant, so there is a lot of experience and exposure to early years behind me.
With an increasing number of single parents, particularly mums, I feel a reliable male role model would be a benefit to these families. Essentially I believe that being a good parent is not about gender, but about being calm, understanding and very open minded.
As a family we relocated to Cornwall summer 2017 and the first 6 months have been spent renovating our cottage and we reopened our childminding doors as Bude and Stratton Childcare in early 2018. We very quickly heard that the area was short of childcare facilities and thought setting up here would be perfect.
In our new location here in Bude the children benefit from our three acres of land and two horses, the idea is to get the children outside as much as possible. We are looking forward to starting our vegetable patch, building our mud kitchen and creating a bug hotel area for the children to explore. Not only this, but we are working towards converting one of our out-buildings into a dedicated playroom with bathroom and kitchen for childminding, to use along with its own enclosed garden area.
In terms of the controversial 30 hours debate, our setting is approved for the 15 and 30 hour government funding and we do offer it to a number of parents however it is hard to work out and provide while being financially stable. We don’t get paid monthly in the same way and this is a struggle for many childminders.
While I was the only male in my childminding classes, I would like to see other men take on childcare as society changes to meet the challenges of the 21st century. I would love to encourage more men into the early year’s sector and I think schools are the way to do this. If schools talk to boys as well as girls about working within the early years age group as a positive career for them, then society will become more accepting of this career path.
Attitudes towards men in childcare have changed and are still changing. It is now more accepted that a male might want to work in an early years setting and that a father will want to take time off work to spend it with their new baby, but there is still work to be done.
I hope that telling my story will help increase positivity around men working in childcare. If I could give advice to any childminders starting up their business, I would recommend that you always remember that this is ‘your’ business, believe in yourself, get to know other in the area and meet up with other local childminders for help and advice.
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